FAILURE TO PREPARE …….

….. IS PREPARING TO FAIL.

As I lay trying to get over my schoolboy error those words kept me awake.

As I kept reliving the beautiful day I had with AM at Muxia and Finisterre my heart began to beat faster and harder.

I could hear what I thought was the wind outside our window. That wind that stole a moment for me.

The torture grew in me as the sound grew louder and ever louder. Each increase in level made my heart pound in my chest even more. My skin began to chill and sweat at the same time. My spine tingled, not in a good way, and my mouth dried.

I was being haunted by a street washing machine cleaning the streets below our balcony as it happened but in my head it was the wind taunting my failure.

It is 4:00 am and I have to take this down or this won’t be the end of the nightmare. When I hear the wind howl through the night I will hear it goad me with this phrase. Laughing at my efforts. Putting me in my place again.

I had spent no time at all preparing for this moment. The one moment that should have meant the end of a chapter in this story. The moment that I had to record for others to see and hear. I failed. I don’t say that looking for pity or as an excuse. It’s just a fact.

I have said many times that I hate those words that management say when they balls up – “we are where we are”. This usually means they can use this expression but woe betide you if you tried to use it when you ballsed up.

But it seems such an apt expression for my balls up. We are where we are.

I was where I was, with the people I loved. AM, John, the peregrinos and those who knew what I was doing and why and who couldn’t be beside me.

I will try to remember exactly what I said – no I won’t. I can’t remember. Unfortunately your heart can’t remember words. It can remember love, it can remember pain, but it can’t remember words.
My love and my pain, I will remember.

I’ve told this part of the story before in another post (Marvellous Mazarife) but it has become significant again so I need to elaborate a bit more and fit it into Finisterre.

I went to Finisterre because of two people. The first was a girl called Summer, from Colorado and the second was a French man who I didn’t ask his name (this is unlike me).

I met Summer in Leon and during the course of our conversation we discussed the leaving of stones at the crosses along the Camino.

She thought that the leaving of stones at crosses meant you were trying to cast off something or leave this burden behind at the cross. When I explained what I was going to do she felt that this wasn’t really what I might be looking for and told me about Finisterre.

She said that when the Romans reached the western most point of their lands they looked out over the Atlantic and thought that this was the end if the earth. They knew nothing of the other side, or even if there was one. Finis Terrae (Latin) – end of the earth became Finisterre.

Whether this was factual or not it set me wondering what to do with John’s stone.

On my way out of Leon, by bus, I met the French man and his wife. He saw I was a peregrino and we chatted, he and his wife had just completed the Camino Frances and were heading home.

When I told him my story and how Summer had made me wonder what to do he just smiled at me, he cared about me and my story, I could see it in his eyes, it could have been his story.

We finished our chat, no more than 5 minutes in all, and our respective buses came along – we were parting ways.

As I was boarding the bus I looked around to wave goodbye and he looked at me and smiled a gentle smile and said “You will know what to do for your brother”.

I have had a few occasions in my life when I have been absolutely and completely floored by someone’s words. This was one of those times. This man had seen inside my heart, had listened to a total stranger and had felt my story.

I slumped down into my seat on the bus and wept at this man’s empathy and love for a fellow peregrino.

I had done my Camino with my love AM beside me from Sarria. I am so proud of her effort. She stepped off the plane on Tuesday, travelling for over 8 hours by plane and bus and started walking at 8:45 am the next morning completing 28 kms. She jokingly says she trained on gin and cigarettes – it seemed to work for her.

We were now at this place to finish our journey.

The Romans looked out to sea and didn’t know what was out there.

This was, no is, the right place for John’s stone. The ending of one part, looking out into the unknown – though some may argue they know what is out there.

The sea is the Atlantic Ocean, it touches the shores of home as well. I don’t have to go far to dip my hand into the sea at home and am joined with these shores.

The rock I have has come from my shore. It joins us. If you feel the need, find a piece of shore and dip your hand into it, the waters around the world are mixed, you will be touching this place.

To all those who loved John I hope I did him proud. I feel I did my best. The shores that you have, and all your family has, will also join with this place.

It is a beautiful place. It holds a special place in my heart and it holds a piece of my heart.

I threw the stone as far into the unknown as I could. The ripples joined with others out there. May they spread around the world and find a friendly shore.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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